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Where We Started - 1956

Dairy Isle opened on the corner of Lakeview and Winchester (St Joseph, MI) in April of 1956. Our hometown Dairy Isle would become one among over 160 that opened in the midwest in the 1950s, and to this day is one of fewer than 40 still standing and operating as an ice cream shop. The franchise was advertised in St. Joseph’s Herald-Press in 1952 as a no-experience-needed, startup business requiring a $9,000 investment, and promised up to $10,000-$12,000 in earnings per season (Roughly equivalent to what would be a $94k investment and promising $104-$125k in earnings/season today). Click here or copy and paste this link to learn a little more about the Dairy Isle franchise:

a vintage photo of an old building

Erwin Gersonde of St Joseph, MI was granted a $7,000 permit to construct the prefabricated kit from Wooster, OH (Commissary Corp) for the shop in February of 1956 which would open its doors to the community just two months later.

Events Throughout Our History

With just over 65 years on our belt at the Korner, this establishment has shared a few turmoils and countless memories with locals and tourists alike, and we want to share some with you! From it’s grassroots with the Miller’s (‘56) and Palleschi’s (‘60), to the Miceli’s (‘17), Dairy Korner has changed hands about 12 times total according to our research. Let’s start back in 1958 with the Millers:

1958 - Hula Hoop Contest

Dairy Isle held a Hula Hoop Contest in 1958 for children aged 4-17, over 100 children tried their luck at winning prizes, and resulted in 4 big winners.

a close up of a newspaper

a group of people posing for a photo

a close up of a newspaper

1961 - Hot Box

In September 1961, Dairy Isle had a motor inside overheat, resulting in the entire building filling with smoke. A serviceman was called but no damages were reported.

1961 - Enclosure Installed

In October 1961 store owner Larry Palleschi paid Benton Harbor Tent & Awning Co. to install an aluminum and fiberglass enclosure around the shop’s iconic ice cream cone with large windows to protect customers from the weather.

1962 - Truck Hits Building

In October 1962 a postal truck ran into the corner of Dairy Isle on Winchester Avenue, resulting in minor damages to the building. No tickets were issued to the driver

1973 - Dairy Korner

New owners of the Dairy Isle franchise decided to rename the business as it’s known today - Dairy Korner.

1977 - Vandals In October 1977

The store was reported to have a 4’x6’ window broken with pellet guns and slingshots, estimated to cost around upwards of around $1,000 to repair if broken today, in 2022.

1980 - Faulty Fryer Fire

In June of 1980, Dairy Korner went ablaze. Starting as a result of a deep fryer being triggered by a faulty electrical switch, the damages were estimated to cost around $10,000 (Around the equivalent of $34,000 today). Water and ash residue resulted in the front window display looking like it was covered in the same Hot Fudge it advertised. (Herald-Palladium, 1980)

1981 - Break-In

In August of 1981, Police were called to investigate a break-in at Dairy Korner and reported $60 total (Equivalent to $186 today) was stolen from two cash drawers. The building was entered by cutting open the screen door and unlocking it from the inside.

2014 - Beautiful Korner Art 

In 2014 artist Chantelle Elosie Allen painted a beautiful rendition of Dairy Korner. To this day many local children and talented artists draw and paint pictures and rocks for us to display in our storefront!

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